What’s the relationship between living and artificial systems? How can we combine the two to form sophisticated solutions to challenges in science and engineering? The annual conference Living Machines puts these questions under the microscope.
Conference chairs Paul Verschure (Director of the Synthetic, Perceptive, Emotive and Cognitive Systems Group at Pompeu Fabra University) and Tony Prescott (Director of the Sheffield Centre for For Robotics, University of Sheffield ) hosted the 2013 events July, 29 – August, 2 at the Natural History Museum in London, a venue no less enchanting than last year’s edition which took place at Antonio Gaudi’s La Pedrera in Barcelona.
In addition to the workshops and the international roster of plenary speakers, this year’s conference featured a special exhibition on Living Machines at the London Science Museum. Intelligent artifacts and biohybrid art made up the majority of installations displayed. Some of the stranger-than-fiction highlights included: a live musical performance featuring a humanoid robot; a robot model of ‘trace’ fossils from the dawn of life; music composed by a bio-inspired computer programme that mimics natural selection; plant-like robots that grow and change shape; wearable computing for finding your way in darkness and a robot that powers itself by digesting insects.
The fascinating exhibition complemented captivating talks on Natural and Artificial Selves by University of California Berkeley’s Tarrence Deacon; Biomimetics for medical devices by Ferdinando Rodriguez y Baena from Imperial College London; the history of living machines by Andrew Pickering from the University of Exeter, and several others.
Stay tuned for the Convergent Science Network’s next edition of Living Machines, coming up in the summer of 2014! To read more about the 2013 event click HERE.